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Even kids shows need classification icons

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CBSC Decisions
OTTAWA - Even unseen flushing needs to be rated, says the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.

In a decision released today, the CBSC said two broadcasts of the Amanda Show, seen on Family Channel, didn't breach any content codes, but did need classification icons in accordance with Canadian private broadcasters' codified standards.

The Amanda Show is a teen sketch comedy show which stars 14-year-old comedian Amanda Bynes. The show is Nickelodeon's top-rated sketch comedy series.

One viewer filed a complaint saying that heads being placed in flushing toilets (ed note: hee hee, we called 'em swirlies, back in the day - er, not that we here at Broadcaster condone that sort of thing�), even though the act wasn't seen, "depicted unsafe and potentially dangerous behaviour, both physically and emotionally,' and that there was a risk that children might be 'tempted to emulate this behaviour,'" says the decision today.

The decision recounts the scenes as such:
"In the episode which aired on Saturday, December 6, 2003 at 8:30 am, the Girls' Room sketch took place on Prom night. As their first guest, Amber and her entourage received the principal, Mr. Hozmatt. When he entered the Girls' Room, Amber asked him whether she had won the title of 'Prom Queen'. He informed her that the students had yet to vote and asked that the cameramen and the girls leave the room. Displeased with his request, Amber called Sheila who grabbed the principal by the arms as if they were dancing, telling him that 'it's a new dance called the Flush.' She then guided him to the washroom cubicle where she proceeded, it was implied, to place his head in the toilet bowl and flush. When next seen leaving the cubicle, the principal had a wet head of hair."

Shortly thereafter, two girls came into the room, screaming that the most popular boy, Jeremy, had been elected 'Prom King'. At Amber's request, Sheila grabbed him for an interview in the Girls' Room. Once he was in the room, Amber interviewed him and prepared to dance with him on the apparent assumption that she was going to be the 'Prom Queen'. A moment later, two girls announced that Danielle Spencer had been crowned the 'Prom Queen'. Amber arranged that Danielle be brought into the Girls' Room. After some catty dialogue, Danielle prepared to leave to give her acceptance speech. On Amber's signal, Sheila grabbed Danielle into a cubicle for a 'Flush for one' and came out holding the tiara that had been on Danielle's head to give it to Amber. Amber, freshly content, asked Jeremy to dance with her, threatening the flush remedy in the event of refusal. The sketch ended by the girls' reintroducing themselves with Sheila sneaking out from behind the cubicle's door to say: 'I'm flushing Danielle Spencer's head'. In the closing master shot, one could see the arm of Danielle Spencer waving to the audience from the cubicle."

The CBSC Panel agreed that the Amanda Show was clearly intended for children and that, within the area of children's programming, its themes placed it in the over 8 (but under 12) category. Consequently, they concluded that the provisions of the Children's Programming article (Article 2) of the CAB Violence Code were applicable to the Amanda Show. The Panel did not conclude that the broadcasts breached that section of the Code and said: "The Panel distinguishes between the issue of bullying in society and what was shown as a part of the plots of the two Amanda episodes. There was, in the Panel's view, a kind of self-deprecating, spoofing nature to the flushing actions in the two episodes. [� T]here was in fact no violence. There was not even any genuinely aggressive behaviour. [� Nor were the characters] portrayed with any degree of approval or admiration. In other words, there was no suggestion whatsoever that their pushy tactics ought to be emulated or even looked-up to. [�]," reads the decision.

"In the end, the Panel does not equate the two Amanda episodes to the horrible social practice of bullying, which tends to be behaviour that aggressively mocks, belittles, demeans, vilifies or physically harms its victims. The Panel does not find in these episodes the harbinger of that dangerous anti-social behaviour. This is not to say that parents watching these episodes with their children might not find some useful lessons or guidance to bring to their offspring. It is just to say that, in its review of the rules in the Children's Programming article of the Violence Code, the Panel finds no problems in the broadcasts."

The show just needs a C8 classification icon at the beginning of each episode.

For the full decision, go to www.cbsc.ca.
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